BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University’s Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) assisted clients in its 14-county service area in starting 14 new businesses and obtaining $10.57 million in loans and equity investments in 2017. The center also assisted small businesses in creating or retaining 216 jobs, as clients’ sales increased by $1,064,000.
“Our businesses are succeeding and contributing to the tax revenues for the state,” said SBTDC Regional Director Byron Hicks, who was recently named interim deputy state director for the North Carolina SBTDC.
The Appalachian-affiliated center, based in Hickory with a satellite office in Boone, offers no-cost, one-on-one, confidential counseling and advice on a variety of business challenges — including management, financial analysis, marketing, research, strategy development, and leadership and employee performance.
The center at Appalachian is among 10 regional centers that form the state’s SBTDC system based in Raleigh. Each center’s counselors coach business owners so they can be successful on their own in the future, Hicks said.
“We’re one of the few geographic areas without a large metropolitan hub,” Hicks said of Appalachian’s regional center. “About 85 percent of our work is with small to mid-sized businesses, with between one to 50 employees.”
Appalachian’s center has four full-time counselors with diverse business experience. In 2017, they served 366 client cases, offering 3,483 counseling hours. On average, clients receive about two years of support from the SBTDC.
Statewide, SBTDC’s operational funding comes from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which is matched by the state. Every $1 spent on SBTDC results in $3.28 in state tax revenue, according to Hicks.
All the SBTDC centers are based at universities, presenting a win-win situation: the centers benefit from the universities’ administrative support and library resources, and students gain opportunities through the centers’ business connections.
MBA students in Appalachian’s Walker College of Business, for example, can complete their 150-hour practicum with the SBTDC, Hicks said. The center has hosted as many as 15 students in a semester.
“It’s great for the students, because small business drives the economy. Students might work with a family business, meet the owner and see what they struggle with every day,” Hicks said.
“Students can develop a scope of work with that company, such as research or a marketing plan, have check-ins and give a final presentation. It gives them work experience and references they can use in the future. A couple of our students have been hired by the clients,” he said.
A three-year grant from Duke Energy also allows the centers to offer summer internships to students.
“People seek us out. Those who seek our help are more apt to have success,” Hicks said.
The 14 counties served by the Appalachian center are Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey.
About North Carolina’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC)
Founded in September 1984, North Carolina’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) is the business and technology extension service of The University of North Carolina. The SBTDC is administered by N.C. State University and operated in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. With a lead center in Raleigh, the SBTDC operates 10 regional service centers in 15 total offices and six specialty programs. It is actively engaged with the state’s economic development infrastructure, from local communities to the N.C. Department of Commerce and Governor’s Office. Learn more at http://www.sbtdc.org
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.